#BYOD4L No. 3 looking back and ahead

It has been a fascinating week and such a rich experience working and learning with so many lovely individuals from different corners of the world but also our own garden.

The BYOD4L family, facilitators and mentors, was bigger than ever before. Nine institutions and two further collaborators from the US (Texas Educator Chat) and Germany (ICT-REV) joined us this time. These included all institutions from the previous iteration, July 14, and four further institutions from the UK (see the full team). The online inquiry-based, authentic activities scaffold using the 5C framework (connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating), Nerantzi & Beckingham (2014), stretched over a number of social media platforms and there were opportunities to engage asynchronously throughout the day on Twitter, Google plus community, the Facebook community, but also synchronously via daily tweetchats (wow, what a buzz these generated!!!) and two hangouts (organised by Dr Sam Illingworth) and further creative activities such as the recipe project an idea brought to BYOD4L by Whitney Kilgore. In addition to the plethora of online planned and unplanned activities, participating institutions organised local events, extending engagement even further and linking global to local – is this what we call glocal?

Facilitators and mentors were busy bees during the week. For some it was their first time, others had been involved in similar activities before. We all saw ourselves as co-learners, supported learners but also each other and I observed the same camaraderie we found in previous iterations (Nerantzi et al., 2014).

A community of participants, facilitators and mentors emerged pretty quickly, if you think that byod4l only lasted five days. the team managed to make engagement personal and social at the same time and this is what, I think made a real difference. Interest in each other’s ideas, thoughts and reflections was demonstrated and communication had a warmth and caring tone. I am including a few links to blogs here: Ian Wilson (participant), Sheila MacNeill (facilitator), Deb Baff (participant).

It was wonderful that some participants from previous iterations came back for more and that there were many new faces as will. Engagement in the tweetchats was probably the climax of daily activities and brought probably the largest number of individuals together synchronously. We will be exploring why this is the case, what we can learn from these and what opportunities these might bring for other areas of professional development.

I personally, am particularly interested in inquiring into institutional participation, benefits and challenges to engage colleagues locally, in our own institutions. Sue and I developed the scaleable framework for cross-institutional collaboration and it is now time to find out how it has worked in practice and were it could take us. We are in the process to establish a working group and identify ways that will help us gain a deeper insight into what happened in our institutions and what we can learn from this.

Further research activities will involve the tweetchats, participants’ experience and impact of BYOD4L on them and their practice, open badges to recognise informal learning and others. As we are an extended team, there are now opportunities for many exciting collaborative research projects to be set-up to find out what works, fir whom and why and to uncover opportunities for the future that have the potential to take us to new adventures, stimulate our curiosity and appetite for learning and development.

Special thank you to my dear friend Sue Beckingham and all staff and student facilitators, mentors, badges reviewers, external collaborators -Marc Smith for the NodeXL SNA visualisation of BYOD4L interactions on the various social media platforms and Peter Reed for the tweetchat visualisations using Martin Hawskey’s code, both helped us visualise BYOD4L as it was unfolding – but also our artist and all colleagues and students who joined us during the BYOD4L week.

My favourite tweet of the BYOD4L week is:

@chrissinerantzi I enjoy using Doodlelicious-bet Coaches Eye would be fun. But in the bath and dictating tweets can’t join in #BYOD4Lchat (Kerry Pace @diverselearners, 8.31pm, 16 Jan 2015)

I think, this tweet sums up the atmosphere throughout the week perfectly!

We will start evaluating different aspects of BYOD4L and consider when and how to offer BYOD4L again later in the year. We will be exploring a number of options looking more holistically to connect and combine with other initiatives. Our thinking now develops more into a whole year plan that will enable us to scaffold activities and initiatives.

Bye for now and speak again soon,



Nerantzi, C., Middleton, A. & Beckingham, S. (2014) Facilitators as co-learners in a collaborative open course for teachers and students in Higher Education, in: Learning in cyberphysical worlds, eLearning paper, issue No. 39, pp. 1-10, available at http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/article/Learning-in-cyber-physical-worlds_From-field_39_2

Nerantzi, C. & Beckingham, S. (2014) BYOD4L – Our Magical Open Box to Enhance Individuals’ Learning Ecologies, in:  Jackson, N. & Willis, J. (eds.) Lifewide Learning and Education in Universities and Colleges E-Book, avaialable athttp://www.learninglives.co.uk/e-book.html. – invited chapter

Wow, almost #BYOD4L time again!!! @byod4l

Happy Birthday BYOD4L! image source: here

While I am waiting (im)patiently for BYOD4L to start again this Sunday evening (the Twitter superchat between #BYOD4Lchat and #txeduchat which will be a question shower to kick off BYOD4L) for the third time, I feel the need to briefly share some thoughts.

I am adding here a link to my reflections from the first iteration in January 2014 which I re-read recently and might also be useful for others who are joining us for the first time as facilitators or mentors.

BYOD4L is now one year old and has been offered twice in 2014.  My dear friend and colleague Sue Beckingham and I developed this open learning event collaboratively without any funding and only using freely available resources and with the valuable expertise and collaboration of individuals from our professional networks for which we will be forever grateful.  Our idea was not to worry too much about the technology but focus on learning and the learner and be creative and resourceful in our approach. Technologies come and go anyway. Modelling an approach that could be adapted easily by others was very important to us! Sue and I quickly realised how well we work together and how our skills, working practices and personalities complement and enrich each other. We also have shared personal and professional values, trust each other and have a shared vision. So while BYOD4L started as an experiment, it has led to many more collaborative initiatives including further open initiatives, related research and publications which are still evolving. This was natural as we enjoy working together. Our next open adventure will be FOSL but more about this soon.

At the heart of our explorations and aspirations was to create a versatile open offer, for staff and students in higher education that would bring them together in one open and evolving learning community (in a way the learning and teaching focus could be any but it just happened to be around smart devices for learning and teaching which helped MELSIG to gain a new momentum and led to a few  further successful smart learning events across the country and the Smart Learning book publication!), to share experiences, ideas, dilemmas, experiment and collaborate – to grow, individually and collectively. But also to support and be supported and create a model of open practice that could/would be sustainable and scalable. I would like somebody to show me an example where a successful business was founded and was massive from day one or called themselves massive before even opening for business. There is room for all shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all. Is bigger always better? And because we can, we will – is this good enough or always appropriate? There are different strategies that work in different situation and not everything works. Big is actually problematic for learning (we don’t need to go far. Have a look at Gibbs’ work Dimensions of Quality and Implications of ‘Dimentions of Quality’).  But we do recognise the opportunities and attractiveness for global and massive creations especially as the connected technologies make this happen extremely easily today. Too easily perhaps? Learning at the heart, however, is personal, I think. even in social settings, networks and digital jungles. I have written elsewhere about parties (parties? not political parties, the other ones!) and how when we go to a party, we don’t really dance with everybody or do we? Unless it is tiny and we really know each other very well and get on with each other. Usually we pick our dance partner(s). Some will never dance with somebody, they prefer to sit in a corner quietly -is this (not) fine?- or really need to be encouraged to get on their feet! This scenario reminds me of what happens in a course, any course, open or closed, offline or online, massive or small. There is probably or should I say definitely, room to refine the approaches used currently in open educational settings, massive, big, small or tiny, if we want to make learning happen for those you can’t engage at the moment or who have great difficulty with the technology and/or the pedagogical design used.

Perhaps smaller or smallish systems and offers are more elastic and bendable and we can implement changes quicker? Something to think about. There is also a question of educational imperialism for me… but let’s not  get political! We started small and BYOD4L was a collaboration based on individuals first, then it progressed to institutional involvement and informal institutional collaborations. As you can see, our approach is collaboration-rich from design to delivery, evaluation, enhancement and research. We encourage learners and collaborators to take initiative and feel part of a flexible community. We recognise that a collaborative ethos and culture is empowering and creates shared ownership and can take us so much further! This is so motivational for many of us! Our approach really reminds me in so many ways of the Happy Manifesto!

We share resources and expertise to help others develop and give something back to the community as BYOD4L and related activities and outputs are openly licensed.

Join us this Sunday evening 8-9pm UK time on Twitter to find out more how you can become part of the BYOD4L family. Follow @byod4l or follow the hashtags #byod4lchat and #txeduchat. See you there.

A massive thank you to all our collaborators, their commitment to this project, their creative energies and ongoing support and engagement!!!